Until 1908, editions of the Féret guide listed vineyards in the city of Bordeaux under this appellation. Great names are attached to this historic region: Edward, the Black Prince owned a hunting lodge at Léognan; the philosopher-wine-grower Montesquieu spent time at Chateau de La Brède and Chateau Rochemorin; and Cardinal de Lamothe lived at Château Roquetaillade. Theis Boredeaux region begins at the southern tip of the Médoc, extending for some sixty kilometers, with a width of fifteen to twenty kilometers. It is bordered on the east by alluvial plains along the Garonne and on the west by the Landes forest, which during one period began to encroach on the vineyards. As the name suggests, the soils and subsoils of this region consist mainly of pebbles, rocks, gravel of various sizes, and sand mixed with alluvium or clay, sometimes on a bed of rock but more often on pure sand or sand containing particles of iron. Because of its structure, this soil is very permeable.
Though no geological formation, in the Bordeaux region or elsewhere, holds a unique claim to quality, Graves is ideal in many ways. Protected from rainstorms by the pine forest on the west and from excessive heat and humidity by breezes coming from the nearby Garonne, the Graves wine-growing area has an exceptional microclimate. Typified by the wines of such chateaux as Chantegrive, Floridère, du Grand-Bos, du Seuil, de Portets, or of the Vieux Château Gaubert, Graves wines have great finesse and aging potential whether they are red, white, or golden. Red Graves, shaped by their terroir, are elegant and structured, refined and aromatic; their complexity comes from the infinite variety of soils and subsoils, and the personalities of the growers. With age, they develop aromas of spices, smoke, and very ripe fruit. The fruit of judicious blends of Sémillon, Sauvignon, and Muscadelle, white Graves are lively and structured, ample, perfumed, long, and flavorful, sometimes with a hint of oak from the cask.
Only white wines are entitled to the Graves Supérieures AOC: these are sweet white wines of a beautiful golden color, sometimes with a touch of amber. Dense, round, and subtle, they have aromas of citrus and peach, with delicate notes of apricot, acacia, and honey in the mouth. One of this region's crus, Château Haut-Brion, was classified a First Growth in 1855. Its fame no doubt had something to do with the Institut National des Appellations d'Origine’s decision a few years ago to create a new AOC for Pessac-Léognan.
Graves de Vayres Bordeaux Wine
Near Libourne, the wine-growing region of Graves de Vayres is on the left bank of the Dordogne. It forms a relatively small area of gravelly soils in the vast region of Entre-deux-Mers, in the Vayres commune, and on the Arveyres plateau. The soils on which these Bordeaux wines are produced are generally clay-limestone, gravelly sand or clay-sand, on a gravelly or fairly compact clay-sand subsoil. White wines of this Bordeaux region can be dry and distinctive thanks to the Sauvignon; they are sometimes sweet, supple, and generous thanks to the Sémillion, which is harvested over-ripe.
The red wines are delicate and refined, and can be enjoyed fairly young.